Paris: A Novel

Paris: The Novel

Paris: The Novelby Edward Rutherfurd is a historical fiction work detailing the lives of some Parisian families Circa the mid 17th century.
Mainly because I’m a fan of Alexandre Dumas, who writes works set in post-renaissance France. I thought the blurb sounded intriguing.
My first impression upon picking it up is that this is a TOME. I didn’t bother to count the pages, but it is a thick book and the pages are about half as thick as a normal sheet of paper.
I stopped on page ten, after an abrupt shift in narrative from a story about a little noble boy (and the preist which may have fathered him [which I quite liked]) to a bourgeoise gentleman whose fourth child is his first daughter, and who celebrates by going to his former mistress because he’s in an argument with his wife over whether or not he should name the baby after the mistress. Also he wants to build a department store. And he brings it up out of frickin nowhere.
I’m guessing you stopped reading my review about then too, huh?
Honestly, these are minor complaints compared to the book’s main problem: Too much exposition. I mean, Sacre Bleu! I know it’s supposed to be a historical novel but even at the best of times what he’s got to say is only tangentially related to the narrative. There’s equally as much condensed history as there is actual narrative (and I couldn’t find any semblance of plot). There is a tiny bit of foreshadowing which acts as a hook, but there’s too little payoff to keep us reading.
Rutherfurd, I’ll be frank. If you wanna write a history book, write a history book. If you wanna write a genealogical novel, write one. If you wanna mix the two stick in only what is necessary for the plot.
Why? Because historical overload detracts from both the narrative and the facts. I was only skimming the history at about five pages in, though I did enjoy it initally.
Really the whole thing reminded me of a lousy sit-com pilot in which exposition is crammed up the audience’s ass like an enema.
Another way in which this book could be improved is to have the history be of some importance to the characters. I know, he’s using real persons from History and statistically, not every one of them could be a historian, but still, tie some of the stuff which would not be common knowledge to the narrative somehow; don’t just jam it in there like it’s prom night.

To his credit, the author uses words well, and this is a great premise. This was another book I really wanted to like.
Oh well.

If you’ve read Paris or are reading it now, leave a comment and tell me about it!


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